Shriya, University of Pennsylvania
Why did you choose to study in the United States?
Having been born and raised in India, I knew I needed to step out of my comfort zone when it came to the next phase of my life- going to university. I decided to apply to colleges in England and the United States. However despite the vast life of places I applied to, my dream was always the University of Pennsylvania. On one of my family holidays to the States, I had gone and visited a bunch of college campuses. Something about the UPenn just stuck out to me. A canopy of orange bringing in the feel of autumn, students hustling around Locust Walking, the bewitching architecture of the student dorms and the wide array of distinguished faculty and resources- made me fall in love with this place. That was when I decided that if I got admitted, this is the place I wanted to be.
What do you like most about the University of Pennsylvania?
The thing I like most about UPenn is that the student body has a buzz of activity that never dies. Everyone here is charged to learn however learning is not only limited to within the classroom. Instead, most of the learning takes place outside of it. The culture of the extracurricular activities here is mind blowing. Every student is engaged in various clubs ranging from community service to debate or cooking to Quidditch.
What do you like most about Philadelphia?
It didn’t take me long to fall in love with Philadelphia. This city always has something going on. Food is a center of attraction- with an endless number of restaurants and cafes. Other than that, Philly never seizes to entertain with its city-wide events like the ‘Philadelphia Pillow Fight’, ‘Drive In Movies’, ‘Ice cream Auctions’ and a lot more.
Did you face any kind of a ‘culture shock’ when you arrived?
Leaving India and coming to the States, definitely gave me some degree of a culture shock but it didn’t last long. I found it very easy to adjust. The people were super friendly and very excited to learn more about my culture and me. They’d go out of their way to make me feel at home. Many of them even invited me to stay with their families (who lived close by) during long weekends and other holidays.
What will you miss most about the US?
I think I will miss the people I have met here more than anything else. Living with friends for 4 years makes them family. However having this family scattered all over the world, will really hurt. More so, leaving Philly will be hard because I’ll be leaving the city which is home to me. I’ll miss the little things like running along the river, visiting the dog park nearby, going down to center city for a meal- and other small thing which has made this city as special as it is.
Do you have some tips to save money while studying abroad?
The best way to save money is to get a part time job. This doesn’t have to be a traditional part time job (although that is also an option), instead you could volunteer for research, sign up on sites online, become a tutor and many more such thing. Most universities have comprehensive websites detailing the various activities that you can do in order to earn extra money. Other than that, buying groceries and cooking meals at home versus going out to eat is a good way to save money too.
How do you think you have benefitted benefit from your study overseas?
I feel like studying abroad has made me a changed person. I have gained life long skills such as independence, confidence, critical thinking and most of all being true to myself. I feel like coming here provided me with a chance to get to know myself better- this allows me to make decisions according to what makes me happy. Doing so has helped me shape myself into somebody I love and am proud of.
What advice would you give to an Indian student travelling abroad to study for the first time?
My advice to such students would be that it’s okay to be scared. Doing something new often elicits anxiety but just know that it is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Have faith in yourself and just be excited for the best years of your life to unfold. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and try everything until you find what you love!